One of the pleasures (and perils) of travel is depending on your meals being prepared by someone else, and a pretty unavoidable change in your exercise routine. That can be part of the joy of the experience — you never know what’s next, so it’s always a surprise! — but it can also derail the healthy habits you’ve worked hard to create and maintain.
As with most things, it helps to plan ahead (and never be without a good pair of walking shoes). Try these strategies for staying on track, even when you’re way off the beaten path.
Incorporate activity into your trip.
Maybe your idea of a great vacation is lying on a beach for a week, but even that plan can accommodate a little movement, as long as it’s fun. The next time you plan a vacation or business trip, think about how you can work in some pleasurable activity. Book a walking or bike tour to introduce you to your destination — or use your vacation to try a new sport you’ve always wondered about, like sea kayaking. Walk the beach each morning and/or evening or amble downtown from your hotel, rather than taking a taxi. Choose entertainment options that keep you moving, like playing mini golf or bowling rather than watching a movie.
Choose the hotel.
Seek out hotels that have health clubs or safe walking routes nearby; call ahead to make sure the “fitness room” isn’t just a few ancient exercise bikes. (Pack a jump rope just in case.) If your budget allows, ask for a room with a mini fridge and/or microwave, so you can have some of your meals en suite instead of depending on restaurants or room service. The front-desk staff can point you to the nearest grocery store.
Give yourself options if you’re on the road.
If you’re driving, pack a picnic lunch or dinner to eat at a rest stop (save the roadside restaurants for coffee and bathroom stops). For longer trips, take a cooler and stock it with meal-ready nutritious staples — carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruit, bottled water, string cheese, whole-grain crackers. Go over the route ahead of time and plan stopping points for meals: surf the internet to locate chain restaurants that have healthy menu options. Further browsing can locate alternative road-food sources, like farmers’ markets and grocery stores.
Prepare for the unexpected, or be prepared to seek out healthier options.
On planes, trains and buses, tuck emergency rations in your carry-on bag, if regulations permit, in case of layovers or delays. Use layover/delay time to your advantage: Walk around the airport, train or bus station (check your carry-on bag in a locker, if you need to); you might just find an out-of-the-way eatery with healthier offerings that won’t blow your calorie budget. But even in the most Spartan of venues you can probably scare up something decent to eat.
(Fitness is fuel for women who are serious about being healthy and staying strong. Online at www.fitnessmagazine.com.)